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US2: Union Square Needs a CBA

Earlier this month on April 3, Mayor Joseph Curtatone presented a covenant that he negotiated with master developer US2. While the deal makes progress towards some of our goals, Union United members are concerned about the long-term implications for displacement and developer accountability.

What’s the Deal?

  • The deal includes a $19 million contribution from US2 toward public and community benefits over the course of the development (30 years). The City will be investing more than $150 million on the Green Line Extension and infrastructure improvements.
  • The covenant also includes a commitment that US2 will negotiate a community benefits agreement (CBA) in good faith with the Union Square Neighborhood Council, a commitment that arises from the work of Union United and other community groups.
  • The covenant is contingent on new zoning for Union Square passing without any significant changes by May 31, which constrains the Board of Aldermen’s power to amend zoning.Many community members have called for changes that would allow more open space and a mechanism to ensure that commercial development keeps pace with residential development.
  • Along with the covenant, the City released a draft “community benefits committee ordinance” that calls for a city-appointed committee to oversee the funds contributed by the developer. This ordinance limits the neighborhood council to an advisory role, which has led to frustration and mistrust in the past.
  • The covenant is between the mayor and the developer, so it is up to the mayor to decide whether or not the developer is negotiating in good faith. Union United has asked the developer to sign a memorandum of understanding with the emerging Union Square Neighborhood Council to affirm their commitment to CBA negotiations, but US2 has refused to meet with community members.

Union United is proud to have amplified the voices of those at risk of displacement in the Union Square Neighborhood. Without the dedicated organizing of this coalition, a CBA would not be part of the discussion for Union Square. Substantial progress has been made, but the devil is in the details and now is the moment to make sure the community is treated as a partner in this development.

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Members of the community in Somerville, MA come together for an illuminated walk to bring attention to gentrification and housing affordability in East Somerville. Produced in collaboration with the Somerville Community Corporation and Mister Francis. Written, directed, and edited by Andrew Eldridge. Produced by Elizabeth Eldridge, Andrew Eldridge.

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